Closed access review of the MoBE field

Very torn about this.  On the one hand “Microbiology of the Built Environment” by Jack Gilbert and Brent Stephens is a great summary of the current status of the field.   On the other hand, it’s behind a paywall and I can’t access the article from my house where I am currently working.   In the interests of spreading information about the field, I’ll post the link and Abstract here but would love to see this kind of information published in an open manner, particularly an article like this that would be of broad interest to stakeholders in a variety of fields even (gasp) outside the ivory tower.

The built environment comprises all structures built by humans, including our homes, workplaces, schools and vehicles. As in any ecosystem on Earth, microorganisms have been found in every part of the built environment that has been studied. They exist in the air, on surfaces and on building materials, usually dispersed by humans, animals and outdoor sources. Those microbial communities and their metabolites have been implied to cause (or exacerbate) and prevent (or mitigate) human disease. In this Review, we outline the history of the field of microbiology of the built environment and discuss recent insights that have been gained into microbial ecology, adaptation and evolution of this ecosystem. Finally, we consider the implications of this research, specifically, how it is changing the types of materials we use in buildings and how our built environments affect human health.


David Coil

David Coil is a Project Scientist in the lab of Jonathan Eisen at UC Davis. David works at the intersection between research, education, and outreach in the areas of the microbiology of the built environment, microbial ecology, and bacterial genomics. Twitter

5 thoughts on “Closed access review of the MoBE field

  1. Can’t you simply email the corresponding author and ask for PDF reprint of the article? In the “old days” (even before my time, barely), profs used to have pre-made postcards with address so that authors could mail physical copies of recent articles (or actual professional-quality proofs if they were provided these by the publisher). It is a pain, however, when article embargoed for certain time, so that even when your institution has a subscription, it may not be available until months after actual online publication date. Anyway, random thoughts. You may published this text to your blog, open-access, no embargo, free for use by the public.

  2. I was able to access this article at a coffee shop off campus…[but logged in remotely (“proxied”?) through University Library site]…on the other hand, I totally agree that such reviews should be more easily available outside the ivory tower, and if authors can send PDF reprints for academic purposes to whomever asks politely for a copy, why not make it open access anyway? In addition…if members of the general public can get guest library cards for Universities…and many University Libraries allow this…if that includes online access, then again what is the point of the pay wall, when reaching site from non-University internet provider?
    On the other hand, things are easier to access than in the old CompuServe days, when one might go into a particular room at your University library, sit at particular computer, access Compuserve, do your NCBI or Pubmed search, then download results as text file to your 3.5″ floppy disk. And after your session, pay the access fee to the librarian…$0.25 per minute or something like that. Wow, those really WERE the old days. The card catalog was still sitting against the back wall of the library lobby, if I recall, on the day I first used CompuServe to search a young and small NCBI Pubmed article database. Sometime in 1994 or 1995.

  3. Thank you Stephanie and Mike for your comments. I *have* access to the article through my university, my point is that many others do not have such an option. And while indeed people could e-mail the author, that doesn’t always work and is certainly not something that the average interested non-academic stakeholder would consider.

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